VAT on Air Ambulance Fuel Payments

Part of United Kingdom Borders – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 11th July 2012.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon 6:00 pm, 11th July 2012

I certainly echo my hon. Friend’s comments, although I must correct her and say that I am not a Cornishman—I was born in Hampshire. I certainly acknowledge the work of the RNLI. As a keen yachtsman, I am always pleased that I do not have to seek their services, and hope I never will.

As a London MP, I know that air ambulance services are not valuable only in peripheral, rural counties such as Cumbria, Cornwall or Yorkshire; they are so important to my constituents and me in London because of what they can achieve. I mentioned the RAF helicopter that was manned by the pilot, the linesman and the navigator but had no medical equipment. The air ambulance in London not only has a trained paramedic, navigator and pilot, but a trauma doctor and an observer, who is often observing as preparation for being a trauma doctor.

The helicopter has qualified people and specialist equipment on board. As we know from accidents in our constituencies, the issue is not always about what the patient is suffering from, but about getting them medical assistance. Air ambulances can provide that quickly—the similarity between Cornwall and Hendon, for example, is that the air ambulance can be on site quickly. As my hon. Friend Tracey Crouch said, they can take the patient to the most qualified centre that they can find and the patient can get treatment that would not have been available if a road ambulance had taken them to the nearest hospital.

The Minister is many things, including a maritime MP. If, for example, the VAT exemption of the RNLI were taken away, how would the organisation feel? I appeal to the Minister to accept the review and put the air ambulances of London, Cornwall, Yorkshire and everywhere else on the same footing as the RNLI. That is not only the fair thing to do; it is the best thing to do for our constituents.